July 1st, 2020

You don't "get money"

One thing which many people don't seem to understand is how they're supposed to get money. At various times in my life, I have been asked by people where I think they could get some money, which is asking the wrong question, a bit like asking "Where can I get health?" The answer is simple: You don't just "get money". Focusing on the acquisition of money defeats the purpose of having money in the first place.

The whole reason why money was created is to act as a medium of value exchange between people. A classic parable explaining why money is useful begins: "You have two cows..." The point is, of course, that without money, you could only exchange with someone who not only needed cows (or at least one cow), but was willing and able to give you what you want in exchange for cows. A much easier way of doing things is to have you sell your cows for some agreed-upon quantity of money, and then use that money to buy what you want from someone else. Money is not magic: It is only worth as much as people are willing to give up for it. It exists as a way to exchange value between people who agree on a value for whatever is being bought or sold.

This is why asking "How can I get money?", as if money can just be "gotten", is such a pointless question. Again, it's like asking "Where can I get health?" The answer is simple: You don't. You don't just "get" health from somewhere; you can't buy it in a store or find it hidden somewhere. If you want to be healthy, you will have to do things that contribute to a healthy lifestyle. If you want money, you need to offer something of value to other people. If you don't offer people something of value, they are going to give you exactly the amount of money which represents the value you gave to them: Zero.

If you want money, the real question is not "How can I get money?", because no one will just give you money (except possibly your family, or random people in small quantities if you become a beggar), nor is the question "How can I make money?", unless you want to start counterfeiting cash. The real question you need to ask is: "What can I offer to other people that is of value to them? What things or services could I provide to others that would be sufficiently valuable to them that they would give me money in exchange?" If you can answer that question, if you can offer a person or people something which they would consider sufficiently valuable to be worth paying for, then they will give you money for it. If you don't offer them something of value, they won't give you money. It's that simple.

Now, I will not deny that there are many people who try to circumvent this intention, with varying degrees of success. People who invest in financial markets like the stock market are not really "providing value to people" in the usual sense; it's more like they are using money to get even more money. The wealthiest people in the world kind of ruin the financial system because they can use their wealth to get even more wealth without actually providing anything of value to people. If you have a lot of money, you can do this too, but chances are that you probably already know this; people who ask "How can I get money?" are not likely to be people who have a lot of money to start with. Then too, there are criminals who "get money" through theft, deception, or other illegal or immoral means, and yes, this is a way that you can "get money" if you're okay with turning to a life of crime. But both of these types of people ruin the trust and fairness of the financial system by turning money from a way to exchange value into a way to gain an unfair advantage. If you're okay with being a worthless person who does not contribute value, then that is something you can probably do.

But if you want to earn money legally and morally, then you need to stop thinking about how to "get money", because money is not going to just fall out of the sky. Stop asking how to make or get money, and start asking "What could I offer to other people that would be valuable to them?" When you can answer this question, the money problem will sort itself out.